Have you ever cried while watching an improv scene?

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Have you ever cried while watching an improv scene?

Postby samples » March 23rd, 2011, 11:33 am

I think I've come close once or twice, but I can't recall tears except for when I was in the scene.
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Re: Have you ever cried while watching an improv scene?

Postby Rev. Jordan T. Maxwell » March 23rd, 2011, 1:30 pm

samples wrote:I think I've come close once or twice, but I can't recall tears except for when I was in the scene.


a few times, mostly while doing Austin Secrets.
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Postby mpbrockman » March 23rd, 2011, 7:07 pm

Only from laughing.
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Postby kbadr » March 23rd, 2011, 10:21 pm

There was definitely one during Austin Secrets this run.

I think it was Karen and Jordan's scene where she was a daughter visiting her dad suffering from dementia. She was really upset because she kept having to remind him about her upcoming wedding. Eventually, they hit a sweet moment and were practicing dancing for the wedding. He was trying so damn hard to remember everything and mentioned something about her mother looking forward to the wedding. Then Karen reminded him that his wife had been dead for years.

Sure there were more than a few wet eyes in the house.

Anyone who saw that scene who still says that improv isn't theatre can kiss my shiny metal ass. And then go find some Apple product to fill the hole in their chest where a heart is supposed to be.
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Postby mpbrockman » March 23rd, 2011, 10:48 pm

kbadr wrote:Anyone who saw that scene who still says that improv isn't theatre can kiss my shiny metal ass. And then go find some Apple product to fill the hole in their chest where a heart is supposed to be.


See, now I'm crying.
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Postby Halyn » March 24th, 2011, 9:35 am

I cried in one of Lisa's scenes from Austin Secrets. It was the scene where she was a homeless woman and she recognized a friend from high school (Kaci). I was doing okay until I heard her voice quiver as she was denying money from Kaci, and then I just wept. The scene was very simple and honest, and I think that's what made it stand out so much for me personally.
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Postby Rev. Jordan T. Maxwell » March 24th, 2011, 11:18 am

a few that come to mind...

the All Star Maestro at OOB a couple of years back had a break up scene between Kareem and Kristin that Patti Stiles directed. it started out pretty standard with some nice grounded and dramatic moments, but by the end both had gotten to a really raw and vulnerable emotional place that had me on the edge of my seat and water on the edge of my eyes. the audience gave it a 3. i still hate that audience...

first Austin Secrets show, there were two...Karen playing a mom whose child had died talking about her coworker's (played by Kristin) child, and the possibility of having another kid someday. a great scene that was doing fine with until Karen dropped that H-bomb of a final line: "I AM a mom." waterworks.

then Kaci and Lisa did a scene later on where Lisa was a homeless woman who Kaci had once gone to high school with. Lisa's entire performance was so heart wrenching, i was welling up throughout the second half. then Kristin (maybe Kristin just makes me cry. ;) ) came on as Kaci's coworker and gave Lisa some money...and Lisa gave it back. waterworks.

in a later Secrets show, Val and Andy did a scene of a wife visiting her husband in prison. i cried almost the whole scene. admittedly, i was prone to that because of my own experience of my father being in prison, but Val and Andy just nailed the relationship and i don't think i was the only one leaking from the eyes at that one...

kbadr wrote:There was definitely one during Austin Secrets this run.

I think it was Karen and Jordan's scene where she was a daughter visiting her dad suffering from dementia. She was really upset because she kept having to remind him about her upcoming wedding. Eventually, they hit a sweet moment and were practicing dancing for the wedding. He was trying so damn hard to remember everything and mentioned something about her mother looking forward to the wedding. Then Karen reminded him that his wife had been dead for years.

Sure there were more than a few wet eyes in the house.

Anyone who saw that scene who still says that improv isn't theatre can kiss my shiny metal ass. And then go find some Apple product to fill the hole in their chest where a heart is supposed to be.


i was so nervous starting that scene. it was the first time in the run i'd had to play someone with an actual impairment of some kind. i had no experience with Alzheimer's personally, but my one of my girlfriends in college had a grandmother with it and i remembered how much she worried about possibly having it someday (or moreso if her mom might have it), so i felt a weird pressure to "honor" that somehow which got me stuck in my head at the beginning. but Karen came in with so much warmth and connection to the daughter, i remember thinking "stop trying to play a fucking diagnosis and just play the truth of this moment." things got easier after that. proving once again, anything worthwhile i did in Austin Secrets can be credited entirely to my scene partner. ;)
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Postby kristin » March 24th, 2011, 4:05 pm

Rev. Jordan T. Maxwell wrote: (maybe Kristin just makes me cry. ;) )


I *love* that I am in your first three memories.

I live for making people cry. Uh... you know what I mean. :)
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Postby Marc Majcher » March 24th, 2011, 4:24 pm

Rev. Jordan T. Maxwell wrote:the All Star Maestro at OOB a couple of years back had a break up scene between Kareem and Kristin that Patti Stiles directed. it started out pretty standard with some nice grounded and dramatic moments, but by the end both had gotten to a really raw and vulnerable emotional place that had me on the edge of my seat and water on the edge of my eyes. the audience gave it a 3. i still hate that audience...

Yeah. I was sitting behind someone who said, kind of loudly, "What is this? I thought this was supposed to be funny!"

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Postby Rev. Jordan T. Maxwell » March 24th, 2011, 4:50 pm

kristin wrote:
Rev. Jordan T. Maxwell wrote: (maybe Kristin just makes me cry. ;) )


I *love* that I am in your first three memories.

I live for making people cry. Uh... you know what I mean. :)


yes, of course we do...you're an emotional sadist. ;)

Marc Majcher wrote:
Rev. Jordan T. Maxwell wrote:the All Star Maestro at OOB a couple of years back had a break up scene between Kareem and Kristin that Patti Stiles directed. it started out pretty standard with some nice grounded and dramatic moments, but by the end both had gotten to a really raw and vulnerable emotional place that had me on the edge of my seat and water on the edge of my eyes. the audience gave it a 3. i still hate that audience...

Yeah. I was sitting behind someone who said, kind of loudly, "What is this? I thought this was supposed to be funny!"

For the rest of us: http://vimeo.com/21452673


did they ask why we need to rehearse if it's improv after that too? ;)
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Postby Brad Hawkins » March 24th, 2011, 5:39 pm

Rev. Jordan T. Maxwell wrote:did they ask why we need to rehearse if it's improv after that too? ;)

You know...? That's a really good question!

Fuck it! No more rehearsals! I'm shedding all practices that are not essential to improv, the way I've already shed "showing up sober."
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Postby Katherine » March 29th, 2011, 10:38 pm

Mike Sully, Mark Majcher and Andy Crouch did an Austin Secrets scene where Mike played a bulimic office man trying to fight the urge to go to the restroom and make himself sick after a big lunch. Andy did a side lines internal monologue of the devil and angel sitting on Mike's character's shoulders. The devil was Mike’s self-conscious cutting him down and reminding him of what a wreck he was. The angel tried, desperately, to convince Mike that he didn’t have to go through with it this time, and that he could be strong. Mark walked in to sell boxes of Girl Scout cookies for his daughter's troop, which, of course, was a bigger stress for Mike's character. Once Mark's character realized something was wrong with Mike, he really treated him tenderly. When the scene ended, it seemed that Mike had won a small battle (he sat back down at his desk instead of heading to the restroom to throw up), but that he was so weary and tired and, we weren’t sure he’d be able to win the war.

Especially when Mike stepped onto the stage - I think I was expecting a female - I figured the scene would be hyped up and goofy, but Mike, Mark and Andy delivered a really dramatic and profound story. They did right by the person who wrote the secret, and they honored that person's experiences. That was one of the best improv scenes I've seen, and I keep it in my mind as something to strive for.
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Postby Katherine » March 29th, 2011, 10:40 pm

...This is slightly different… John Ratliff ran an Essential Elective a month or so ago where he had us stare into each other's eyes. This was so stressful and vulnerable! Andy has also done a similar "game" with our class where one person stands in the center of the circle and turns to face each person and one by one, and calmly, sincerely declare, "I am here." Some students really like the positive energy of that. Others can't take the honesty of it, and they try to ham it up. Still others - me! - can't take the vulnerability of it, and they race through the "game" with anxiety. I'm not saying these warm ups are bad at all; they have just forced me to open up in a way I'm not willing to do usually, and I’ve found myself choked up after each one.

In John’s class, after the warm up, he had us on stage to do scenes in a diner where we imagine something important has just been said. My poor partner, Eric, handled it really well, but I ended up in tears quickly. The warm up exercise prepared me for that, I guess, and then I lent the real tears to the situation in our scene.

...Has anyone teared up in their own scene? Do you think it's an ok thing (professional thing?! / good improve thing?!) to do? What things have caused you to tear up? How do you keep it present but not let it overwhelm the scene?
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Postby KathyRose » March 30th, 2011, 12:54 pm

Katherine wrote:Has anyone teared up in their own scene? Do you think it's an ok thing (professional thing?! / good improve thing?!) to do? What things have caused you to tear up? How do you keep it present but not let it overwhelm the scene?

Yes. In fact, it happened to me in a scene with Heidi Caldwell, in Sunday's class at The Institution Theatre. I was an aging actress applying makeup for an important performance. Heidi entered and quietly, respectfully helped me dress, addressing me as "Mother." That tilted the scene. Now - perhaps - I was in a nursing home, and the performance - perhaps - was only in my mind. I noticed how she had mended a tear in my robe. I apologized for being so careless last time. She remained patient and gentle. As we were leaving to go "on stage," I was so touched by her tenderness that I caressed her hair and asked, "When I'm gone, will you play the role?" Although we never said what the role was, I knew it was very important to me, and my eyes filled with tears of relief when she said, "Yes, I will." It evoked in me the same depth of feeling that I had at the end of "Big Fish" (one of my favorite films).

It's more than okay; it's your body's way of letting you know that you have touched on something that's truthful. But don't try to "keep it present." Stay focused on your character's objective and push through it. People fight tears because they usually hinder what they're after.

It's like Frank Capra said, "I made mistakes in drama. I thought drama was when actors cried. But drama is when the audience cries." Shelley Winters was highly praised (in her later years) as a dramatic actress, not because she could cry, but because you could see her character trying desperately not to.
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Postby Rev. Jordan T. Maxwell » March 30th, 2011, 2:40 pm

Katherine wrote: ...Has anyone teared up in their own scene? Do you think it's an ok thing (professional thing?! / good improve thing?!) to do? What things have caused you to tear up? How do you keep it present but not let it overwhelm the scene?


i've done it a couple of times. the most recent ones that come to mind are from a Maestro a few months back where Kristin (yes, seriously. :p) and i had to do a dramatic break up scene. she confessed to cheating on me and we started screaming at each other. it got very intense. by the end, i was bawling and collapsed against the wall as the lights went down. took me a couple of days to shake that one off. ;)

more recently there was an Austin Secrets scene i was in with Halyn where she played my mother after i'd been in an accident that left me scarred and slightly disabled. it went some highly emotional places, with Halyn just pouring all of this empathy and support out at me that let me feel free (as an actor) to break down emotionally (as the character). i started crying during that...then Kristin came in (seriously, this is becoming an epidemic!) and fast forwarded to the future as my wife who'd just had our child. whole other kind of tears started flowing. :)

in both those instances, it felt a very "in character" thing to do, so i don't know if i'd ever start crying as a performer (out of character). and in improv, i don't know if there's actually a difference...you're creating the character and the situation moment by moment, so whatever you're feeling in that particular moment is valid and a tool to be used. it's an honest and vulnerable emotional reaction...and if that's not one of the things we're working towards as artists, then i don't know what the hell we're doing. ;) so as long as it's not coming off like an affectation, i say go for it!
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